Frank Tapping ( – )
Written by Mark Tapping
The year saw preparations under way in British South Africa for the formation near Kimberley of the Pioneer Column which, the following year, was to occupy Mashonaland and lead to the establishment of the British Colony of Rhodesia. The year also saw the birth of Frank and his twin sister Winifred early in the afternoon of 26th July in Stoke House in the parish of Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, England. Their parents, John Henry Tapping and his wife Kate, already had five children including three sons and were to have yet another three including a boy. Unfortunately the baby Winifred was not strong enough to withstand an attack of pneumonia and, after both babies were hurriedly and privately baptised in October of that year, she died two days later while still only three months old. She was buried in the churchyard of the old disused parish church in Stoke Mandeville which lay just outside Stoke House Farm, within view of the house. Although replaced many years before by a new church in the centre of the village, the old building was still being used for the burial of those whose relatives already lay there, as did many of the babe’s.
Frank had turned two when the family moved to Bedgrove Farm in the adjoining parish of Weston Turville, although very close ties were to be maintained with Stoke Mandeville. For example, in May, , Frank was “received into the Church” in Stoke (i.e. the equivalent of a second baptism) at the same ceremony as that at which his younger brother Frederick and his younger sister Mabel were baptised. Frank grew up, then, in Weston Turville, together with his many brothers and sisters. Here he passed his formative years and here, as a rather quiet and shy boy – perhaps a little overshadowed by his elder brothers – he learned to know and to love the fertile, green fields of the Vale of Aylesbury. Here also, on Bedgrove Farm, he acquired his knowledge of farming and his long-lasting interest and affection for all things agricultural.
The boy was educated mainly in Aylesbury where, with his brother Fred he attended Walton College, a recently opened private school. He was a good student (he was top of his class when ten years old) and by was studying such a divergency of subjects as divinity, Greek, Latin, French, German, arithmatic, algebra, Euclid, science, history of Greece and Rome and geography. Among prizes won for his school work was one in – the year his grandmother Mary Tapping died in Stoke Mandeville – for diligent study and excellent examination results in all these subjects. The following year, again with his brother Fred, Frank was moved to the Upper School of the Endowed Schools in Aylesbury where two of his elder brothers had already gone for their final schooling. The Endowed Schools later and after reorganisation became the Aylesbury Grammar School and in fact before Frank left school preparations were under way for the erection of the new premises in Walton Road where, in due course, both of his own children were to study. When Frank attended it, the Upper School occupied a building at the top of Church Street which in later years was to house part of the County Museum.